“I am finding this really hard”
Said the experienced teacher, with her laugh of derision, publicly punctuating her moment of sudden inner revelation. “I have just realised that I am hopeless at listening”. A breakthrough moment that shows the difficulty of coaching. The challenge of identifying and admitting your limitations.
Coaching is not all fun and games
The exercise was a simple one yet highlighted for the group that perhaps arguably a core skill for a teacher these days was perhaps not a given. She admitted honestly to the group that she was fighting the urge to contribute her own similar experiences to show sympathy. She was formulating what she was going to say back before she had even digested what was being offered in this conversation. She felt an almost physical sensation in stopping herself from giving advice. Her habits of listening were full of bias. Again, the difficulty of coaching.
The importance of coaching techniques
I meet some school leaders really keen to ‘develop’ coaching further in their school environments. Great news. Exciting. A real commitment to maximising potential and making the most of their greatest asset in a meaningful and individualised way. Yes, pupil outcomes can be the heart of it. Yes, some staff may be able to hold coaching style conversations. Yes, there are some real differences between a networking dialogue and coaching. Here is a paper that outlines ten to start.